Standardised assessment of personality -- a study of validity and reliability in substance abusers

Hesse, Morten; Rasmussen, Joachim; Pedersen, Mads Kjær
January 2008
BMC Psychiatry;2008, Vol. 8, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Background: Brief screening instruments for co-morbid personality disorders could potentially have great value in substance abuse treatment settings. Methods: We assessed the psychometric properties of the 8-item Standardised Assessment of Personality -- Abbreviated Scale (SAPAS) in a sample of 58 methadone maintenance patients. Results: Internal consistency was modest, but similar to the original value (alpha = 0.62), and test-retest correlation at four months follow-up was moderately encouraging for a short instrument such as this (n = 31, test retest intraclass correlation = 0.58), and change at the mean level was minimal, but marginally significant (from an average of 3.3 to 3.8, p = 0.06). Analyses of nurse ratings of patients' behaviour at the clinic showed that SAPAS was significantly correlated with nurse ratings of externalizing behaviour (r = 0.42, p = 0.001), and Global Assessment of Functioning (r = -0.36, p = 0.006), but unrelated to intoxication (r = 0.02, NS), or withdrawal (r = 0.20, NS). Conclusion: There is evidence that the SAPAS is a modestly valid and relatively reliable brief screening measure of personality disorders in patients with ongoing substance abuse undergoing methadone maintenance. It can be used in situations where limited resources are available, and researchers or others wish to get an impression of the degree of personality pathology in a clinical population, as well as for screening purposes.


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